A PRESTONPANS construction worker who found himself jobless and ineligible for furlough during the coronavirus lockdown has pedalled into a whole new career – and mended more than 2,000 bikes in five months.

James Harvey, of Grange Grove, was an agency worker on building sites until the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

When lockdown began, he was made jobless and without furlough payments – as was his partner, Amanda.

Dad-of-five James said: “I was working on building sites through agencies and my partner was working in hospitality.

“And then our jobs were taken away from us and we weren’t furloughed.

“Then we just started really struggling.”

But 32-year-old James heard a radio report that claimed bike shops were struggling to cope with the rise in repairs, as more and more people took to two wheels during lockdown, and James realised that bike repair was something he could do “with my eyes closed”.

James told the Courier: “When I was younger, we didn’t have very much so if my bike broke I had to be able to fix it myself – or I wouldn’t have a bike any more!”

And when Amanda shared this fact on social media, “it just blew up from there,” said James.

He added: “I’ve had local bike shops sending people up to me; I even adapted a buggy for a disabled kid. It had a rivet that came out and the woman came down, distressed, and we fixed that as well.”

Working from home, James has had customers from as far afield as Edinburgh, Duns, Dalkeith and even West Lothian, and groups of cyclists who drop in with punctures.

“We bought an advertising bike and did a sign for it,” said James. “And we put it down the bottom of the road at Prestonpans but we had to take it away again because far too many people were coming.”

And kind-hearted James has been offering his services free of charge to NHS workers and at a discount for other key workers.

James said: “A lot of bikes we’ve had in are kids’ bikes, which we’ve done for free because it’s usually maybe adjusting a brake cable or something like that.

“Kids just turn up and are like: ‘Oh, can you put my seat up a wee bit?’”

Now, James is looking for help from agencies including Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise, as he intends to continue in the bike repair business.

He said: “I get offers to go back on the building sites every day, now lockdown and everything’s relaxed a bit.

“But I prefer to do this. I can see the kids and I can go in the house for a cup of tea!”

So James is seeking financial support to help fund a workshop space for his growing start-up business; while partner Amanda does his paperwork and manages the social media.

James said: “I’m dyslexic so I couldn’t do all that stuff.

“I don’t think I would have been able to do it without her.”

To find out more and book your bike in for a service with James, go to bikerepaireastlothian.co.uk or search on Facebook.